For as awful as gaming’s vocal minority claims the modern industry is, there’s plenty of nice things to say about contemporary video games. For one, there’s basically too many coming out on a weekly basis, they’re almost universally worth playing and they go on massive sale after a month or so. It’s great. Also great: the industry’s tendency to localize pretty much everything. For instance, we’ve finally got an official localization of 1995’s Super Famicom classic Romancing SaGa 3 for modern platforms!
Who would have thought we’d live to see the day? Now let’s just talk Nihon Falcom into bringing over Zero no Kiseki and I’ll be satisfied. Maybe.
After an event called the Death Eclipse occurs and kills every child born in the same year, the world struggles to recover. One child survives and eventually becomes the Archfiend, who plunges the world into the rein of terror. Centuries later it happens again, with the sole surviving child becoming the heroic Matriarch. When a third Death Eclipse occurs, we’re left wondering whether the survivor will be a force for good or evil. We follow one of eight main characters as they explore the post-Death Eclipse world, running across adventures, battling monsters and going on dungeon crawls.
Would you believe this plot was considered impressive enough to merit its own stage play? I’m serious. Romancing Saga 3 was literally a theater show in Japan. Look it up.
Anyway, this is a SaGa game along the same lines as 1993/2017’s Romancing SaGa 2 and the more contemporary The Legend of Legacy and The Alliance Alive. It’s a more freeform RPG. Characters can develop in various ways based on what they use – mages become better mages, warriors become better warriors – and can be pushed in whatever direction you’d like. Combat is turn-based and pretty standard for its era, with the usual SaGa twist of learning new skills at random present and accounted for.
You’re also not really carried along with the plot. Much of the world is open right away after a short intro scene based on the hero you choose, and your job is to find trouble to get into. That’s not hard if you look. There’s all manner of crazy quests to discover, ranging from assisting a masked vigilante to rescuing children from a cursed tower. Romancing SaGa 3 just wants you to find them for yourself.
This is a remaster of a much older game (1995 is practically a different world now), much like Romancing SaGa 2, and like that game it was never officially localized. That means that this really does feel like a forgotten classic. This is the kind of presentation we came to expect from high-quality games of the Super Nintendo era, with top-notch sprite art and environment design. There’s also something to be said for the new high-res font, which is far superior to that used in fan translations of this game that you may or may not have played.
Romancing SaGa isn’t a series for everyone. You’re given a huge amount of freedom right away and it’s entirely possible to stumble into nasty surprises that you aren’t prepared for. Still, if you’re open to exploration and willing to endure failure now and again, then chances are this beautiful remaster of Romancing SaGa 3 is going to be quite the nostalgic treat.